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MyoClinic: Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing

Sauna bathing is a traditional Finnish activity that is becoming more popular worldwide, and it is associated with several health benefits beyond relaxation. These benefits include a reduction in the risk of vascular and nonvascular diseases, mortality, and the amelioration of conditions such as arthritis, headache, and flu. The review suggests that the beneficial effects of sauna bathing on these outcomes are due to its positive impact on circulatory, cardiovascular, and immune functions.

10 Key Takeaways

  1. Sauna bathing can help lower blood pressure, especially in people with preexisting vascular disease or cardiovascular risk factors.

  2. Regular sauna bathing may reduce the risk of developing hypertension over time.

  3. Sauna bathing may not provide the same muscle training response as physical activity but can increase muscle blood flow in response to heat stress.

  4. Sauna bathing may protect against cardiovascular disease, including reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, and stroke.

  5. Sauna bathing may have neurocognitive benefits and improve lung function and reduce pain associated with certain disorders.

  6. Sauna bathing is generally safe for healthy people and those with stable cardiovascular disease.

  7. People with certain cardiovascular, infectious, or inflammatory conditions, as well as skin conditions, should avoid sauna bathing.

  8. Short stays in the sauna followed by rapid cooling may be hazardous for people with preexisting cardiovascular disease due to increased workload on the heart.

  9. The combination of high cardiorespiratory fitness levels and frequent sauna bathing may provide greater protection against cardiovascular disease.

  10. Sauna bathing can be a beneficial addition to an overall healthy lifestyle but should not be considered a substitute for regular exercise or medical treatment for cardiovascular or other medical conditions.


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